Pensioners warn of conmen posing as city employees

PENSIONERS living in Berea and Morningside advised to be aware of conmen operating in the area claiming to work for eThekwini Municipality.

Two pensioners contacted Berea Mail after being duped by the men saying they had lost much-needed cash through the scam.

In both instances, the women were contacted by a man, calling himself Andre du Plooy, who said he was working for the municipality.

Jenny Smythe from Morningside said the man phoned her on 17 July to say the municipality had a special on pre-paid electricity meters for pensioners living in the area. She was told a man by the name of Kalan would visit her home regarding the new meter. Smythe explained that the man also mentioned the name of a woman, Natasha, who allegedly worked at the office.

“I was given a reference number and was told Kalan would come to visit and I should ask him to give me the reference number before letting him in. He arrived on 19 July and he gave me the correct reference number. I let him in and he chatted to me about the meters. I feel silly as I should’ve done more research into this, but he knew all my details, where I had a clothing account and so on, which was scary in hindsight, I could only think he was from the municipality at the time,” she said.

The man requested R2850 in cash for the meter, which Smythe decided to give him to avoid giving the man her banking details. She said he took the money and left the meter with her.

“I then realised there was something wrong and went to the police to open a case. I left the meter with them,” she said.

ALSO READ: Berea SAPS warns of scam

Last week, a frustrated Jill Young contacted Berea Mail to say she too had been caught by the same conmen.

“About a month ago a man by the name of Andre contacted me regarding a pensioner rebate. He asked if I had received a rebate and said there was a new system in place and pensioners had been overpayed. He told me a man by the name of Kale Barker would visit me, and gave me a reference number,” said Young, adding the name Natasha was also mentioned in the conversation.

Young said a month later Kale arrived at her home, gave her the correct reference number and sat down to discuss the situation with her.

“He was an Indian man in his 20s and seemed very plausible. He gave me a long story and said I would need to pay R1000 deposit. I had just drawn money, so I gave it to him and he left. When he drove away I realised what I had done. I could just kick myself! I need to warn others so this doesn’t happen to them,” she said.

Berea Mail received a call this week from a man who had also been contacted by Du Plooy regarding a pensioner rebate, and in the conversation mentioned the names Kale and Natasha. Fortunately, he did not fall victim to the scam.

EThekwini Municipality’s Deputy Head of Communications Mandla Nsele said residents must be vigilant and report these cases as soon as they occur.

“Regarding the imposter, we are not aware of this particular case. However, there have been similar cases in the past where criminals used the eThekwini name to gain entry into people’s homes claiming that they want to advise them on energy saving, meter installations and/or readings and to perform other alleged Council related work. We urge customers to be vigilant to avoid falling prey to criminals posing as municipal employees. Any representative of the municipality will have an ID tag with a photograph, ID or employee number with the municipal logo,” he said.

If residents are suspicious about any person contacting them, they can call to confirm with the Municipality’s 24-hour Call Centre on 080 1313 111.

 

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  AUTHOR
Lauren Walford
Journalist

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